California Highway One

Roadway to California's Spirit
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Photograph of Monterey Cypress on a cliff above the Pacific

California Highway One clings to the wild coast of California: a thin, pliable line outlining rugged cliffs plunging to power-mad surf. Traveling Highway One is more than a scenic drive, it's a pilgrimage; a reconnection to California's history, environment, mythology—its spirit

I grew up in the northern Sacramento Valley; an area that's bone dry, hot and dusty by the end of June. Seeking relief and a little adventure, my family made an annual rite of taking a summertime trip either"up the coast" (to Humboldt) or "down the coast" (past Carmel) from San Francisco. In the winter, we might make a weekend of whale watching, usually off at Ano Nuevo State Park. These trips are still generate powerful memories: the walks along the beach, the oysters eaten, the writers learned about, the hikes through redwood forests.

Region: Central coast of California
Length: 122 miles
Endpoints: Monterey and Morro Bay
Features: Dramatic ocean scenery; several ocean-side state parks and the Los Padres National Forest, which includes the Ventana Wilderness; the historic towns of Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur and Morro Bay, plus Hearst Castle
Side Activities: Hiking, beach combing, wildlife observation, historical exploration

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 23 Mar 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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